Witchy Brooms

Day 188 of 365

One of the things that has helped me most in my life is learning how to not be jealous and to be truly happy for other people’s success and treasures they get for themselves. This did not come naturally to me when I was younger. I grew up in a large family with few resources. I envied everything from the houses my friends lived in to the blue jeans they wore. 

Thankfully, fairly early on as an adult, I could see that being envious was getting me nowhere and just making me unhappy. Still, it was a process of letting go and growing before I could truly feel happy for other people’s successes and treasures. I think I was in my late 30s when I realized that life is pretty tough and if I don’t learn to be happy for others, there is just not going to be enough happiness in life to suit me. 

This worked. I now know how to deeply take happiness from other people’s success and good fortunes. I love when friends get good jobs or a dream house or when their kiddos do well in the world. I feel joyful that I have brilliant friends who are rewarded for their amazing skills and hard work. I have some writer friends who get dream book deals or land articles in dream publications, and I feel so proud of them—and then do my best to support them by buying and sharing their books. I feel happy when my friends or acquaintances treat themselves to something nice, especially my mom friends. They deserve a treat and then some. 

I have found, because I am so truly happy for others, I end up with a lot of joyfulness in my life, and isn’t that such a wonderful thing? 

But I am far from perfect, of course, and there are a couple of material possessions I feel envious of—barns, brooms, soft yarn. I also really want some heritage chickens and feel a tiny bit of jealous when I see people post pictures of their heritage chickens in the chicken forums. Well, it’s like 90% happy for them and just 10% jealous.

I don’t know if a barn is ever going to be possible, but Ron and I are trying to make a plan to save up for a small barn. The other things seem possible though. Well, the chickens are a challenge as we are at capacity. I guess that one and the barn are kind of tied together. Still, a fantastic broom seems reasonable, so I decided to start with brooms. 

I have always loved brooms and not the kind from Wal-Mart or Target—the real brooms, the witchy brooms, the beautiful, handmade brooms that look like they might be magic and are most certainly beautiful. 

There is a children’s book called The Widow’s Broom by Chris Van Allsburg. I must have read it to both of my children about a dozen times. It’s about a witch who falls from the sky when her broom starts to get too old and worn out. A woman finds the witch and helps her heal after the fall. As a thank you, the witch leaves her old broom with the woman, and though the broom can’t fly anymore, it can still help around the house. The old woman and the broom become good friends. Later, some townspeople see the magic broom and try to destroy it. I won’t give away the ending, but it ends happily thanks to a clever woman and a clever broom. 

Last week, I read an article in a Maine magazine about a broom maker who has a shop on the coast of Maine. Classes are sometimes offered but not at this time, so to get one of these beautiful brooms, you have to go to the shop. You can’t buy one online. You have to go there in person and see the brooms for yourself. 

This sounds like choosing your magic wand to me, and I really want to go to this shop and choose a broom. I have decided to make this a goal for the holiday season—to get a special broom. The shop in Maine is a long drive from where I live, but if I manage to go, I will take a lot of pictures. I don’t know what Ron is going to think of this plan because I am going to want him to drive me. I can do it, but I am not a fan of driving. It’s too stressful.

Anyway, I spent this week learning some of the lore related to brooms and witches since I love witchy brooms so much. I learned, for example, that you have to use your broom with intention, like you can sweep out negative energy if you want to. Oh, and it’s bad luck to store your broom on its bristles, which makes sense. I wonder if I can hang it. 

I am not sure why I have always loved brooms so much or exactly why or how they came to be associated with witches. Apparently, there is some debate, but I read an anthropologist said the association may be related to a pagan ritual where farmers leap and dance on brooms and/or pitchforks in the moonlight to encourage growth of their crops.

I have to tell you, after this summer’s drought, I completely understand trying dances to get your crops grow.

photo credit: Jane Slack Smith, Unsplash

One Step at a Time

Day 10 of 365

Well, I made it to double digits in my efforts to write every single day for year. That seems like a good first milestone. My husband says that you have to do something for 30 days for it to become a habit. I hope that’s true, as I will have just 20 days to go to make writing here a habit.

I will have to be quick with my writing today. I have much work to do–many essays to grade. It’s been a busy week, and Thursdays tend to be long grading days for me. Things have also been extra stressful this week. I am teaching a writing class that ends this week, and some of my students are just in a panic. I have found that, since the pandemic, the normal “end-of-class anxiety” has increased ten fold. Everyone is stressed. Everyone.

It’s understandable. I just read an article today about problems with global food supplies that are certain to get worse. There’s a terrifying baby formula shortage. There are wildfires. Inflation is worrisome. At the grocery store today, I saw that a carton of a dozen organic eggs cost $8.49. It made me very thankful for our refrigerator full of organic eggs. But I understand the stress.

Today, one of my extremely-stressed students actually hung up on me while I was trying to help her over the phone. At first, I was grumpy about it, bemoaning the treatment of teachers. But then I remembered the stress of the world, and I decided to text my student a kind message of support. I told her I was going to type out what she needed to do so that she could read and process it again when she was less stressed. I told her to try not to stress, that the work always seems worse when it feels new and unknown–feels like it’s piling up. But I promised her she just needed to take things one step and a time.

And isn’t that the truth? Just one step at a time.

I believe I have learned this deeply, learned a kind of serenity that helps me with my anxiety from the state of the world, from homesteading. There have been times when I have felt overwhelmed by the work of a farm, like when our flock got sick with a respiratory illness a few years ago or when the garden is producing faster than I can process the food in the fall because I have to keep grading essays too. There was the duck with the broken leg that had to be healed. There was the summer when three ducks had bumble foot to treat. Three ducks! That’s a lot of duck-foot wrapping.

But I always get through it.

These experiences have given me some wisdom and patience, which is so important to someone with such a busy, worried mind. I dig into each new task knowing that, even though my work may feel daunting, most likely, I will be able get through it all. I often write about the magic of the farm and living more connectedly to nature, but as I thought about things today, I realized one of the most important life lessons I have learned from the farm is that I can handle more than I can think. I just have to start.

I don’t know what to do about global food shortages. But, today, I delivered the first farm shares to two families, and a third one starts next week. Maybe it’s okay to just take things one step at a time.


And just a quick Ruby update. She is doing fairly well, but I discovered when I candled her eggs that she has some poultry lice around her head. It feels like a miracle I saw them. I have terrible eyes. My poor Ruby! But I treated her with the good stuff, since I don’t have to worry about withholding her eggs anyway. She’s not going to be laying eggs for a long time. I also took her extra treats and scrambled her an egg this morning. Being broody is hard on a hen, and adding lice to the situation is not good. Still, I will give her a second treatment next week and will scramble an egg for her every day. Hopefully, this won’t be much of a setback for her.